Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Exploration of Adult Higher Education Leader’s Perceptions of Agency and Stewardship Theory
by Barber, Matthew, Ph.D., Indiana Wesleyan University, 2019, 165; 28031426
Abstract (Summary)

Agency and stewardship theories reflect theoretical approaches for examining workplace relationships between principals and agents, including the internal and external drivers of motivation and accountability of leaders and subordinates to organizational objectives. Agency theory presupposes that the motivation of the principal and agent will be in conflict, and therefore control measures will need to be employed by the principal to maintain the agent’s accountability to the goals of the principal. In contrast, stewardship theory does not presume tension or conflict between the motivations of principals and agents and leaders and subordinates. Instead, organizational actors, if acting with the mindset of a steward of the resources over which they oversee (human, material, and financial resources), stewardship theory presupposes a more collaborative approach towards accountability, working together, and meeting organizational objectives.

The growing presence of adult higher education programs (AHE) operating within the confines of nonprofit colleges and universities has generated several significant organizational and leadership issues worthy of empirical exploration. Within the context of nonprofit leadership and higher education, these issues include but are not limited to, potential confusion for AHE leaders and their subordinates related to competing organizational priorities, leadership and subordinate values, delivery systems and outcomes resulting from diverse and multiple stakeholders. The differing approaches presented by stewardship and agency theories towards principal-agent accountability and leader-follower relationships give rise to organizational and leadership implications. These implications include but are not limited to, resource allocation priorities, workplace climate issues related to trust and collaboration, and mission drift and accountability. This qualitative study explored the influence of stewardship and agency perceptions of 18 leaders of adult higher education programs who provide leadership and operational oversight of adult higher education programs in nonprofit universities and colleges in the United States.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Johnson, Patricia R.
Commitee: Simmons, Brian, Wilkinson, Gary
School: Indiana Wesleyan University
Department: Organizational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 82/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Higher Education Administration, Health education
Keywords: Adult higher education, Agency theory, Non-profit leadership, Non-traditional education, Organizational leadership, Stewardship theory
Publication Number: 28031426
ISBN: 9798662567665
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